Sandy Bay is one of the jewels in the crown of Northland. But on a stretch of coastline that boasts Matapouri's white sands wrapping around its picturesque horseshoe bay, or the world famous Poor Nights Marine Reserve, there are a lot of jewels on the Tutakaka Coast.
Sandy Bay, known mostly for its gentle and consistent surf conditions, is just over 2.5 hour's drive from Auckland. Accessed by the coastal road and sparsely developed on the waterfront, this beach is a true getaway. There are a range of accommodation options set inland from the beach, mostly self-catering in private holiday homes. Some of the larger houses on the holiday accommodation websites can be expensive if going it alone, but are great for sharing the costs of a weekend with another family or two.
It's a great place to be active. Whether the kids are building sandcastles or joining you on the native bush walk to the secluded Whale Bay, visitors of all ages will find something to do. The conditions are normally great for a gentle kayak, SUP or fishing from small vessels beyond the headlands. Sandy Bay is also a short drive back to Tutakaka where chartered dive and snorkel trips run daily to the Poor Knights in summer. There's little in the way of shops, apart from the excellent ice-creams and basic supplies at the Matapouri store (Tutakaka Marina is your best bet for retail therapy and stocking up). What it lacks in retail, Sandy Bay makes up for in its seemingly remote feel: an authentic kiwi beach haven.
When the conditions are right, the beach is a renowned spot for visiting surfers. Talented young surfers (grommets) are often out at first light. It's also a great place to learn to surf (we saw a group transforming their dreams into reality), and a great place to practice without the fear of extreme rips or tidal currents. Do note this beach is not patrolled by lifeguards.
Sandy Bay boasts white sands and a tree-lined strip of grass for lounging and enjoying the view of the Poor Knights Islands. It's also a place to base yourself for coastal walks to Whananaki (approximately 2 hours on foot), and Whale Bay (drive 5 minutes up the road to find the carpark and walk for approximately 10 minutes to a beach only accessible via this track). It's just the spot to swim and relax over summer, but enjoy the serenity year round.
Get away from it all and discover this Northland treasure.